Special thanks to the University of Oregon’s Journalism department. Lori Shontz, the associate professoer who manages the program for track journalists, has worked with us for several years. This piece is by RJ Chavez. RJ Chavez is a senior at the University of Oregon graduating in one week with a degree in journalism. He plans to do some freelance work with his hometown newspaper in Hood River, Oregon, during the summer of 2016. RJ did a nice job on giving RunBlogRun readers a wonderful view of the historic performance by Gators in the mens’ long jump!
Gators Leap to History
By RJ Chavez
EUGENE, Oregon – The last time two teammates finished one-two in the long jump event at the NCAA Track and Field Championships was in 1987.
Thirty years later, at the 2017 NCAA Track and Field Championships on Wednesday at Hayward Field, the dynamic duo from the University of Florida, KeAndre Bates and Grant Holloway, rewrote the history books.
“It’s not about how you start, but how you finish.” said Holloway. “And KeAndre came out with a wonderful jump on his last one.”
In the last round of the long jump final, Bates leaped for what would end up being a winning jump of 26 feet, 5 inches. Two inches behind Bates was Holloway.
“A loss is a loss in my book,” said Holloway. “But best for it to be against another Gator.”
Holloway’s second-place finish came during his first-round attempt, when he achieved a distance of 26-3, and that finished earned the Gator teammates first- and second-place finishes.
“I’m happy that me and Grant got do it and that I got to be a part of it,” said Bates. “Because I’ve been waiting for it.”
Last year Bates finished third at the NCAA outdoor championships. And after not performing well on his first attempt in the final this year, he knew he had to focus if he wanted a better outcome than last year.
“In that last round, I came together,” said Bates. “I knew what I needed to do and I just kept that on my mind. I kept that one thought that I need to hit my speed, be aggressive with my steps, keep my chest and board knees up, and then take off.”
For Bates, he didn’t need to focus up until the last attempt of the final, because all his distances before that either qualified him for the final or at worst would get him a second-place medal.
But his teammate Holloway however had two fouls in his first two attempts of the first round of the long jump. If it wasn’t for his third attempt of 26-3, then history for the two Gator jumpers would’ve never been made.
Although the individual success between the two athletes is “humbling,” as Holloway described it, there is something else at stake. The two jumpers scored 18 team points for the Gators, who are battling with Texas A&M and Virginia in the team competition.
“The meet isn’t over,” Holloway said, “and the goal is a national championship.”